A research repository is a single place to keep all your user research. At Handrail, we not only store research. We also give people valuable tools for planning research, collecting data, performing analysis, and surfacing insights.
While most people doing research clearly see the value in a repository, selling upstream can be a challenge. There are always competing priorities within organizations for budgets and other resources. It can be hard to compete with those that have more visibility to leadership and influence over budgets. But it can definitely be done!
In this article, we’ll help make the case for putting a research repository front and center in an organization. That way, you can provide your team with a foundational component for getting out of research debt (webinar).
The Value of a User Research and Insights Repository
A repository gets products to market faster
As research teams grow, there’s an increasing chance that some research has already been done on a topic. And stakeholders need feedback as quickly as they can get it. Not having to redo a study can mean speeding up time-to-market without sacrificing well-grounded decision-making. And researchers can spend time on questions that haven’t already been answered.
Uncover the hidden connections between insights
With all your insights tagged and in one place, you can start seeing relationships between otherwise disconnected insights. Any one insight may be the product of a particular study, but a good research repository helps you pull insights out from studies to be able to look across them and see patterns. This can help answer questions that are hard to get at during any one study. It can even spark ideas for new, innovative products!
Save developer cycles
Developers need to understand what they’re building. They might have questions about what led to a particular feature or how customers responded to the concept. When this happens, a developer might stop working on a feature until the questions get answered and return to a pet project or they might go searching for the person that did the research. Providing the development team with easy access to research (or at least the key findings) keeps them well-informed and confident that they’re building the right thing the first time.
Increase trust in the research
Let’s face it, not everyone takes the output of user research at face value. And they shouldn’t! It is the responsibility of those doing research to ensure their work is credible. Exposing research plans and the evidence behind insights can go a long way toward establishing that credibility, allowing the people consuming research to see the context around it and verify that the work holds up.
A repository saves money for the research team
Almost no teams doing research have the resources to accomplish everything they’d like to do. So, research-ops leaders are always looking for ways to:
- Have the same group of people be able to do more research
- Have more people be able to do their own research.
A research repository with built-in workflows for executing research can reduce the time to complete a research project. It can also provide guidelines and templates so that non-researchers feel more comfortable doing more research themselves.
Never lose valuable research
It always bums us out to hear stories of research getting lost when someone leaves an organization. Accounts get deleted and with them go a pile of valuable research data and insights. This is totally avoidable. Research is an investment. We should protect it.
Provide transparency to leadership
It is the nature of complex organizations to have gaps between those who run the place and those on the front lines. The most successful organizations are ones who consistently bridge those gaps, finding ways to communicate fluidly up and down the org chart. Providing leadership with efficient access to research can be an effective way to increase demand for research that influences strategy at higher levels in the organization.
Understanding the Needs of Leadership
The best way to understand the needs of leadership is to include them in the conversation. They may have valuable insight about how to sell ideas further up the chain or horizontally to other groups. They can certainly provide valuable insight about their own perspectives and goals around a research repository. We can end up with a better understanding of competing priorities and the values that drive decision-making around an initiative like this. You can think of it as researching their goals and the problems they face, much like how we research our users to understand their needs.
Ultimately, every leader and budget holder is different. Different approaches work better with different stakeholders. Some will be interested in innovation while others will focus on cost reduction. If we aren’t able to get budget approval, all is not lost.
Handrail has a free “Solo” level account that provides one team member access to Handrail. This can be used to begin capturing research in a repository without having to clear the budgetary hurdle. You can start small, focusing on capturing research around topics that are particularly valuable to the organization. This can be a great way to provide a tangible demonstration of how the repository will look and function and how it can provide value to a broader group of stakeholders. You’ll be well-prepared for future budgeting seasons. And once the budget is approved, you’ll be able to instantly deliver value to the organization by opening up your pre-populated repository.